Cold and wet, running from a rain storm on my motorcycle making coming home from the cities, a break was in order. Pulling off the interstate onto the back roads of a small town south of the cities, I stopped at a local downtown business I’d been eyeing for some time, but this time I felt extremely compelled to stop in. Shopping around a bit, I wanted to chat with the seemingly Iraqi owner to kill some time and delay my return to the elements, and chat we did.
To my surprise, he’d given me several free items from his store, and the gracious interaction he displayed with each entering customer amazed me to the point that I had to ask him what compels him to be that way. He already knew I was a Christian, and his seamless response to that question shocked me. He said, “Because I’m Muslim you know.”
He explained the Koran doesn’t allow for any living thing to be killed, especially humans. Money is why they do it, he explained. It’s not about religion, it’s about money. They just happen to be Muslim and that is used against them. They prey on the vulnerable, offer them 50 to 100 thousand dollars to blow something up, and they take it. It is about oil. Al-Qaida knows if they create a volatile environment, oil prices will rise and wreck the American economy. It all comes down to oil and money. It has less to do with religion, but that’s not what we are being led to believe.
“The middle east is full of Christians”! My immediate reaction was, “What”. Yea, he said, there are thousands of Christians. As he talked more about the recent unrest and fleeing of so many Christians in the area, he explained that many have taken refuge with local Muslim families, including his family.
“Saddam was bad, but it is much worse now. He said now everyone has guns, knives, and all sorts of weapons. Under Saddam, if you were caught with anything like that, you would be in prison for quite a while. As for really bad guys, if they were caught, they would be gone forever. Because of the nature of the Middle East it requires a strong and sometimes harsh leader, like Saddam. What’s happening now, is a nightmare.”
I couldn’t be more thankful for this interaction. Do I still believe that Jesus was God? Yea, I do. Does he? No, he does not. Do I want him to believe that too? Yea, I do, but for that one rainy day in August, we both began a dialogue on the common ground that life is precious and must be cherished…